Even though eating is a vital part of our life, many people have a negative attitude towards food. They might think food will make them fat or they feel guilty when they eat certain things like ice cream or chocolate.
There are many reasons people have a negative attitude towards food and it can often be attributed to all these crash diets and overly perfect models you find on the internet. But that doesn’t mean you cannot shift your perception of food.
In fact, whether you want to lose fat, gain muscle or simply live a healthier life, food will always be part of it so building a better relationship with food is key – and you are the only person responsible for this change.
So in this post, I want to talk about the most important aspects of what it means to have a healthy relationship with eating and food, and also a number of tips on how to get there.
The most important aspect is your emotional stands towards food. Basically, you don’t want to be too emotionally attached to eating and instead do it for mostly logical reasons like health or your training.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy food or have a great time cooking a nice meal. It just means that the emotional reaction you get out if it shouldn’t be the main driver.
Because people who eat based on their feelings tend to see things in black and white. They categorize everything along the lines of good and bad or healthy and unhealthy foods, when in fact it’s your overall diet that counts.
Taking a step back and evaluating a meal not based on its individual foods but how it fits into your overall diet is a lot easier and will make dieting more enjoyable.
Does that mean you should still watch your calories and macros when you are trying to lose weight or gain muscle?
Of course, but you don’t have to micromanage every aspect of it.
Not being overly emotional about food also means that it shouldn’t be your main source of happiness. Life has so many things to offer like your family, friends or career and you should take advantage of all of them.
Eating for pleasure usually means something in other areas of your life is lacking so try to fix that first.
Of course just like food shouldn’t be your main source of happiness it also shouldn’t be your main cause of anger or sadness.
For example, if you stepped on the scale today and saw that your weight has risen even though you wanted to lose weight, this shouldn’t ruin your day.
Weight fluctuations are normal and changing your body is always a long-term game. This also applies to fitness folks by the way.
I know a lot of people that get very nervous and sometimes upset when they miss a meal or don’t get their protein regularly. They live by the meal plan and don’t allow for any flexibility in their lives.
Ok, so now that we talked about what it means to have a healthy relationship with food, how to you get there?
No one is perfect of course, so we all have to try to improve on some level. What you have to understand is that most diets will strain your relationship with food not strengthen it.
So you want to work on this before you commit to a super complicated eating style.
Here is a short step-by-step plan that will help you get on the right track:
1. Review Your Diet Objectively
The first step is to review your diet objectively. What this means is that you take a look at your current eating habits and write them down.
This will force you to think about what you are putting in your body – both the healthy stuff and the unhealthy. Many people simply eat whatever the can find in the fridge and don’t spend a second reflecting.
Reviewing your diet doesn’t mean you have to change anything or come up with a meal plan – not yet. I just want you to look at your current diet to get some idea of what could be improved.
2. Practice Mindful Eating
Next, you should start mindful eating. I don’t mean this in a spiritual way, but simply try to sit down at the kitchen table, turn off the TV, eat normally and taste your food.
Oftentimes in our hectic modern lives, we stuff down our food on the way to work or in front of the TV on the couch. These habits will definitely lead to eating the wrong food and overeating.
So take a moment to think about what it is you are eating and also what kinds of nutrients this food has or doesn’t have.
3. Come Up With A Meal Plan
The third step is coming up with a meal plan. No, not a crash diet, but a well-planned and long-term meal plan.
There are hundreds of tips out there showing you how to set one up and I even have an entire course on meal planning, so I won’t go into the specifics now. But one important part is losing the all-or-nothing mindset.
Many people start off on a diet highly motivated but fail to see significant results in the first few days or weeks. This is normal, but because they think they should look like that fitness model on Instagram by now, the drop their meal plan and go back to their old ways.
4. Be In It For The Long Run
Like I said before, dieting is a long-term game, which is also why the term „diet“ is misleading. We tend to think of it as something that you do for a while and then go back to normal.
What you want to achieve instead are healthy changes that become part of your lifestyle and that you want to keep.
When you adopt this kind of mindset you accept that things might be slower for you than for other people, but it doesn’t matter because any progress is a win and this progress will stick with you for life.
In this sense, someone who walks for a year will get a lot further than someone who sprints for five minutes.
Now, once you have your meal plan set up you can start getting into the details. This includes things like tracking your calories and macronutrients and setting up specific times of the day to eat your meals.
Following such a meal plan takes practice, of course, and its a skill you need to develop. But a good meal plan will leave more room for flexibility and also include certain cheat meals and goodies.
Like I said before, healthy dieting doesn’t mean that have to become a food monk who lives only by the rules of his nutrition bible.
In fact, the opposite is true. The more you learn to watch your calories and nutrients, the more room you have for treats and not so healthy food, without gaining weight or feeling sad.
So the bottom line is that developing a healthy relationship with food isn’t hard. You just have to make the first step and then keep going.
Start off small and try to develop the habits I outlined before. If you need help along the way, don’t be afraid to ask questions. And always leave room for setbacks. This isn’t a race and all you are doing is looking after your body.